Derek’s ‘City of Stories’ Norwich Mural

We were delighted to find out recently that Graphics and Visualisation Manager Derek Jackson was a winner of Norwich BID’s challenge to design one of a number of new murals in Norwich City Centre.  The mural can be seen on the side of the Virgin Money Lounge on Castle Street. Below, Derek talks through his idea for the mural and how it was achieved.

The brief was for a mural that represented Norwich as a ‘City of Stories’, in recognition of the city’s UNESCO City of Literature award.

At LSI there is always a strong link between our buildings and stories, in that we believe it’s the people who will use the building that make the stories as opposed to the buildings themselves. When you understand the story of the users and the stories they want to be able to tell in future, it then informs the design of the building. So for me, stories and buildings are very closely linked together and there came the idea of using Norwich’s most recognisable buildings.

That idea evolved into using the Norwich cityscape as spines of books. Looking at this straight on though might have appeared quite flat, so I explored the idea of showing the books at an angle.


In order for this to work convincingly, it was important that the mural was viewed at an angle and one of the sites that I could choose from had a really restricted viewpoint. This meant that there was control over where the mural could be viewed from and therefore I could introduce the idea of it appearing to be 3D.

I used Photoshop to create the spines and illustrate the perspective which formed the basis of the entry – and was delighted to find out that it had won.

I then realised I had the task of working out what actually had to be painted to achieve the effect! It had to be painted in a distorted way to ensure that it would look correct from the angle that it would be viewed at.

To do this, I created a really simple 3D digital model and was able to line the image up with the model and build the books in 3D – as if they were actually there. From there I could project the points making up the books back towards the camera to work out where they hit the building face – which left the outline of what needed to be painted.

Finally, I took the simple wireframe I’d created back in to Photoshop and was able to work up the image again to create the distortion correctly.



The reaction to the mural has been fantastic, and there are now a few others at LSI Architects making entries for the next mural challenge which is great to see. The Norwich mural project is an excellent opportunity for local artists to make their mark on the city. As well as adding to the city’s individuality, it has allowed me to give something back to a place I’m proud to call home.

Norwich BID are now taking submissions for another batch of murals for the city centre. Find out more here